Some residents of Ajasa and Ogunleye streets in the Okokomaiko area of Lagos State have accused police personnel of indiscriminate arrest and extortion of innocent residents under the guise of looking for cultists, who allegedly shot dead two friends.
They stated that rather than go to Alaba and Ojo, where the hoodlums came from, the police decided to arrest, detain and extort innocent residents of the area.
According to the residents, nine suspected members of the Eiye Confraternity shot dead Wasiu Olaitan, 31; and Frank Mmanko, 29, while a pregnant woman was injured in the area last week.
A resident, identified simply as Ayodele, told PUNCH Metro that the residents in police custody as a result of the incident were innocent.
He said the police knew where the hoodlums came from but did not do anything.
Ayodele stated, “We invited the police here to go after the cultists, who caused unrest in this area. We told them that the cultists came to our community and killed two innocent people and wounded many others, including a pregnant woman.
“We live in fear, not only of the cultists, but also of the police, who take the law into their hands by arresting innocent citizens for offences they know nothing about.”
Another resident, identified simply as Tayo, gave the names of some of the people arrested by the police as Taiye, Useni, Usman and Alhaji.
He said while Alhaji and Useni, who was hit by the hoodlums’ bullet, were released after three days in detention, the others were still in custody.
Tayo said Useni was arrested and taken to the Ojo Police Station and later transferred to the Okokomaiko Police Station, where the cops released him on the excuse that they could not keep him in the cell because of the bullet wound on his leg.
The Police Public Relations Officer in the state, DSP Bala Elkana, said all the people arrested in connection with the Okokomaiko unrest would be charged, adding that they would have to prove their innocence in court.
Elkana stated that the police work on information and that they would not just go to a place and arrest innocent persons, who had not been accused of any wrongdoing.
According to him, the police have reasons to hold the suspects in custody, noting that the police would not let go anyone who would later cause trouble in the community.
He said, “No one accepts that his child is a cultist. One man called to say his child was not a cultist, but when we brought the boy out, he confessed that he was a cultist. It was then that man started shedding tears.
“He thought the police arrested his son on trumped- up charges. The police work on information. If the people do not want the police to arrest suspected cultists, they should stop complaining.
“If the residents have the names of those they know to be cultists, let them come forward and give us those names different from the ones we have.”